The merry yesteryear of NYC taxi passengers getting free, televised therapy or cashing in for guessing “it’s Darth Vader” is over. Nowadays, when cabbies get stabbed by Tea Party-liking bigots and get demonized by the press, the divide between driver and rider is vast. To talk partitions, we flagged down Amir Baradaran, taxi cab video artist and Marina Abramović’s attempted fiance to ask him how and why he’s screening videos of glancing cabbies on Taxi TV.
After long negotiations with Taxi TV programming companies, Transient is coming to 6,300 taxis next week.
Amir stressed to us that this is not a political piece but a contemplation of space. When the press exaggerated how cabbies rip off their passengers, riders began to treat cabbies with [bigger] distrust. The paranoia hinged on the perceived “otherness” of the drivers grew, he explains.
It’s not just the attitudes. It is the “architecture of a cab” itself, the distance inside. There is “a space of work and a space of leisure” and a partition between as both stare into different directions. The video project bridges the gap with direct glances of the drivers edited into arty vignettes, screened at the riders. Amir says,
I didn’t want to create something where the viewer walks away satisfied by their brief moment of empathy with a driver.
Take a cab between September 5th and 15th for some purposely disorienting video contact.